Yum! Brands, Inc., corporate headquarters. Image courtesy Yum! Brands.
Yum! Brands, Inc., corporate headquarters. Image courtesy Yum! Brands.

Yum! Brands Inc. and the University of Louisville have launched the Yum! Center for Global Franchise Excellence, the first business program of its kind at a public university to provide existing and potential franchisees multiple levels of online education on the franchising model across industries. In addition, the Yum! Center for Global Franchise Excellence will focus on recruiting and educating underrepresented people of color and women on the possibilities of franchising as a pathway to entrepreneurship.

Yum! Brands is providing $3.5 million in funding for the center as part of company’s global Unlocking Opportunity Initiative, in which it committed $100 million over five years to promote equity and inclusion, education and entrepreneurship for employees, frontline restaurant teams and communities around the world.

“We believe that combining the resources and expertise of the University of Louisville with Yum! Brands will create an unrivaled resource for world-class training in franchising that will help people everywhere, particularly underrepresented people of color and women, succeed in franchise ownership and management,” said UofL President Neeli Bendapudi. “We’re excited about the new center as it aligns with UofL’s commitment to empower our communities and supports our vision to become the nation’s premier anti-racist metropolitan research university.”

“We’re proud to partner with the University of Louisville on developing a sustainable, globally scalable program that democratizes exposure to and builds knowledge of the franchising industry for all,” said Scott Catlett, chief legal and franchise officer at Yum! Brands. “Our hope is the center will carve a path to economic opportunity and successful ownership for talented, underrepresented people while bringing diverse voices and ideas to the broader franchising community.”

The Yum! Center for Global Franchise Excellence builds on UofL’s existing franchising education programs in the College of Business, which include a graduate certificate and an executive-level Franchise Management Certificate, along with an undergraduate franchising track within the Bachelor of Business Administration program that launched in the Spring 2021 semester.

The center’s curriculum development is led by franchising industry alumni and business experts at UofL, with subject matter experts at Yum! Brands providing resources, up-to-date information and powerful industry insights on the state of franchising.

In addition, to improve equity for underrepresented people of color and women, the center will:

  • Actively recruit diverse students to its undergraduate, graduate and executive-level programs offered through the College of Business
  • Conduct research to develop new knowledge surrounding franchise ownership, including case studies, white papers and other work to better understand the reasons for lower ownership by underrepresented people of color and women
  • Create regular podcasts and a practitioner-focused journal to share franchising education and news with franchise owners and managers.

“Franchising is one of the best paths to entrepreneurship, creating an opportunity to build generational wealth,” said Kathleen Gosser, executive-in-residence in the UofL College of Business, where the center will be based. “Franchise ownership among underrepresented people of color and women is lower than their representation in the population. Our goal is to uncover and reduce barriers to franchise ownership, starting with education.”

The franchising model is strong in the U.S. and globally and makes business ownership accessible to many individuals. By the end of 2021, the International Franchise Association projects the franchising industry will increase to more than 780,000 outlets employing 8.2 million people in the U.S. alone.

“Partnering with UofL on the Yum! Center for Global Franchise Excellence allows Yum! Brands to amplify our world-class franchising model and give more people access to the franchising world and the ability to create generational wealth and a legacy,” said Wanda Williams, head of Yum! Global Franchising. “Access to the program will also be a wonderful opportunity for new franchisees entering the Yum! Brands system as well as for employees who want to become business owners.”

In addition to Yum! Brands’ recent grant to UofL, the company also is investing $6 million over five years to advance equity and opportunity across Louisville, particularly in West Louisville, including uplifting Black students, educators, entrepreneurs and social change agents. As part of this, Yum! Brands is working with Nat Irvin, assistant dean in the UofL College of Business, on the university’s Pathways program to help predominantly Pell Grant-eligible high school students at key public schools in Louisville earn college credits from and early admission to UofL.

Yum! Brands, based in Louisville, has over 50,000 restaurants in more than 150 countries and territories and more than 2,000 franchisees around the world. The company’s brands include KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and The Habit Burger Grill.